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Help yourself! Children can get their fill of learning in their outdoor area with the help of a water butt installed by practitioners at Cockfield Primary School nursery, as Judith Cowley explains

Help yourself!

Children can get their fill of learning in their outdoor area with the help of a water butt installed by practitioners at Cockfield Primary School nursery, as Judith Cowley explains

One of the children's favourite activities arising from the development of our outdoor area is tending their vegetables and flowers in the small fenced garden plot we created in a corner of the playground.

We ensure that waterproof outdoor clothing, aprons and boots are available so the children can dress themselves for their planned tasks before entering the area, and a large outdoor storage cupboard has been re-organised so they can access the tools and equipment they need and return them after use. Smaller tools are slotted on to hooks fastened to the inside of the doorframe and larger items, such as watering cans, stand on shelves inside. The cupboard is left open throughout the session and the children can always ask for any additional resources they feel they need.

Although our garden plot was an instant success, we initially had problems supplying the children with sufficient water to meet their needs and the needs of the thirsty seeds and growing plants. We tried several means of storing water without success, until we decided to purchase a large water butt from a garden centre. We placed it on to a low table, so the tap was at the correct height for the children, and left a plastic storage container underneath the table to catch any drips.

The butt can be held securely in place by tying it to the fence behind, but it is quite safe because the weight of the water holds it in place.

The children love to come and fill their watering cans from the tap and carry them back to their plot without any adult help. Our caretaker recycles spills from the container back into the butt and makes sure that the butt is filled up regularly. Thanks to our bright idea, wilting plants are no longer a feature of our garden.

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